Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Light Pullover Review
(Photo/David Young)

A Shoulder Season Favorite: Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Light Pullover Review

One of the best parts of fall is getting to pull out all of those cozy hoodies and jackets as the air temps drop and the trees drop their leaves.

Having a lightweight yet warm jacket during the shoulder season is especially important for higher elevation hikes and camping trips. Mountain Hardwear’s StretchDown Light Pullover is an ideal puffy pullover designed for this time of year.

The StretchDown Light Pullover comes from Mountain Hardwear’s broader StretchDown line of jackets and pants. And as the name implies, the hook with this line is high-tech warm-down materials that are also stretchy. Anyone who spends time in the outdoors being active will immediately recognize the benefit of such material.

In short: This StretchDown puffy pullover ($250) is lightweight, compact, warm, and moves with you as you hike or climb. Mountain Hardwear accomplishes this feat by weaving pockets of down insulation from a single stretch fabric, allowing full range of movement.

Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Light Pullover Review

Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Light Pullover - fit
(Photo/David Young)

The first thing I noticed when I tried on the StretchDown Light Pullover was that it isn’t a jacket and it’s not a “hoodie.” It falls somewhere in between, and it fits like a glove. And this is by no means your dad’s down — Mountain Hardwear’s StretchDown fabric is high-tech stuff.

The pullover is made of a durable material blend that comes together with the highest quality down insulation. The Allied Feather + Down is 700 fill power, which means it is warm down to around 20 degrees.

Each jacket includes a QR code that enables you to track where the down in your pullover comes from. I scanned my jacket and learned that the down in my StretchDown Light Pullover is from China and is grey duck.

It also indicated that while the stated fill power is 700, my pullover is verified at 785 fill power, meaning it’s even warmer than advertised. The down is Responsible Down Standard (RSD) Certified.

The engineered construction of the StretchDown combines warmth and movement in a way that you typically don’t see in down jackets.

Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Light Pullover
Close-up quilting on the StretchDown Light Pullover; (photo/David Young)

StretchDown Light Pullover Specs

  • Weight: 14.8 oz. (size medium)
  • Fabric: 20-denier durable stretch Doubleweave (86% nylon, 14% elastane)
  • Style: Half-zip pullover construction
  • Includes: Elastic binding at hood and cuffs to seal in warmth, two zipper hand pockets
  • Packable into right-hand stow pocket

From Town to the Backcountry

Enough with the science behind the StretchDown Light Pullover. The real question is, how does it perform in the field?

The short answer is — great. Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of this pullover is how versatile it is. You can use it to keep warm doing everything from backpacking and rock climbing to hiking or walking around town.

I can just as easily slip the StretchDown on for a quick trip to the store as I can for a backcountry camping trip in the mountains. The pullover works for a full range of fall-to-winter activities.

It fits true to size and moves seamlessly with my body. The design is durable and unlike many down coats that I have, which are covered in tape to keep the down from escaping little tears in the fabric, the StretchDown material is solid.

Testing the Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Light Pullover - hood
(Photo/David Young)

The hood is helpful to have as well if it is windy or snowing out. The elastic in the hood also keeps the hood tight around your face. And the design of the jacket looks unique and different from a traditional down jacket, which is a welcome change.

One of the only drawbacks is the lack of storage space. It would be nice to have a couple of other pocket options, particularly for a phone.

From the trailhead to the summit, the StretchDown keeps you warm while on the move. It can work over base layers as an outer layer or under a waterproof shell if it’s snowing or raining out. It is a versatile layer that will work almost anywhere.

StretchDown Pullover vs. Patagonia’s Nano Puff Pullover

When putting the StretchDown Light Pullover up against another classic down jacket like Patagonia’s Nano Puff Pullover, it’s surprisingly easy to see where the StretchDown stands out.

Both of the pullovers are the same basic concept and will keep you warm. The Patagonia pullover is made of 20-denier recycled ripstop polyester with a 22-denier lining fabric. That is comparable to the StretchDown, but the Patagonia pullover has 60 g of PrimaLoft synthetic insulation, so it should work down to around 30 degrees.

The Nano Puff is a tad lighter at 10.1 ounces; however, it does not include a hood that the StretchDown offers. The Patagonia pullover also has a chest pocket for a cellphone or map. The Mountain Hardwear pullover does not have a chest pocket option, just the two zipper hand pockets.

Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Light Pullover - Stow Pocket
Packing down the StretchDown Light Pullover; (photo/David Young)

Both of the pullovers have the ability to pack away in a stow pocket, which is great for when you want to throw it in a pack. The Nano Puff is a bit more glossy and looks more like what you think of when you envision a “puffy” jacket.

The main differentiator is the stretch-woven fabric in the Mountain Hardwear, making it more flexible — and after testing, we found it more durable — than the Patagonia option.

Then there is the price tag — the Patagonia is less expensive, selling for $169. The StretchDown Light Pullover is $250, maybe its only downside.

Conclusion

The Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Light Pullover is a great option to stay warm this fall and winter from high alpine campsites to city sidewalks and everywhere in between. The 700-fill down pullover is compact, lightweight, and warm. And it’s flexible enough to move with you through life.

Check Men’s Price at evoCheck Women’s Price at REI

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David Young
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David Young is a freelance writer based in Fort Collins, Colorado. He specializes in outdoor writing and has a degree in journalism and English. He has more than two decades of experience writing for daily newspapers and working in public relations. David enjoys all that Colorado has to offer from mountain biking and fly fishing to backcountry skiing and backpacking.